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Porcelain or stainless?

Why do people love porcelain sinks? I'd love to exchange mine for a good stainless one. My current sink is white, and I have to be so vigilant so it doesn't stain.

I acquired this sink with the house we now live in, so it wan't my choice.

At any rate I think porcelain sinks are considered an upgrade, no? I just wonder why.

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  1. I had a red porcelain sink at one and it did not show all the marks. I chose stainless this time but I would suppose it depends on the sink. There are cheap and expensive of both kinds.

    1. I like stainless better. For me, it isn't so much about white or clean. It is that stainless steel is tougher. I don't have to worry about chipping the sink. (are we talking about full porcelain sink or enameled porcelain sink?)

      A lot of things are more expensive without being easier to use. Enameled cast iron cookware are often more expensive than stainless steel cladded cookware, but enameled cast iron cookware are not easier to use. They are just different.

      1. I've had both, and far prefer stainless. That said, as wekick noted, there are cheap (crappy) and expensive (quality) in both materials.

        The Kohler porcelain over cast iron I inherited with my current home is hopelessly stained, but it's deep and well-made, no chips. The SS sink in my son's rental is one of those cheap 6" deep ones, very thin gauge. I wouldn't trade him.

        But when we replace the counters (and get that new range) next year, the sink will be replaced with a nice, deep, stainless model. Easy to clean and easy to polish. I polished my last one anytime I was using BKF, baking soda or vinegar on my SS pans.

        1. I presume this is porcelain over cast iron. I mean, that is only kind of porcelain sink I know about. It is a Kohler, and it is really deep, with a small bowl for the garbage disposal.

          Would I test it with a magnet to find out?

          So far, no staining, but I am vigilant with Bon Ami. If I have to, I'll resort to a stronger cleaner.

          1 Reply
          1. An extra deep Blanco, Franke or Kindred stainless is hard to beat. No matter what, they polish up beautifully.

            1. I don't see how it's any different, stainless sinks need to be scrubbed to stay clean too and they water spot. Personally I think stainless sicks are flat out ugly. I've had both over the years but I can't stand stainless sinks.

              5 Replies
              1. re: rasputina

                After 35 years of hard use in a farm house, my mother's Yellow Kohler kitchen sink still looks near new. No chips, no staining, and it is solid and doesn't rattle or vibrate with the garbage disposal like all the stainless steel kitchen sinks I have known.

                I would give one of those serious consideration in any new house or kitchen remodel in my future.

                1. re: Sid Post

                  Well Sid, when it came to remodeling the kids bathroom, I did a lot of research and its seems nothing is more durable than a cast iron porcelain tub. Filling the rough cast surface results in a thick coating of porcelain. Getting it up the stairs is another story all together.

                  For the kitchen though, I like a "High" quality stainless.

                2. re: rasputina

                  <I don't see how it's any different, stainless sinks need to be scrubbed to stay clean too and they water spot.>

                  I've found that simply rinsing my porcelain sink isn't enough to prevent stains. If it's not scrubbed almost daily, it stains. Stainless sinks don't stain under normal use. Scrubbing isn't needed. If water spots are objectionable, wiping a little vinegar around takes care of that in a jiffy.

                  The rest is just personal preference.

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    Yes. You can neglect a stainless sink for a few days, and go back and scrub it down with an SOS or Cameo. It shines up pretty well. It does scratch, but that goes with the product.

                    I had to be vigilant about my stainless sink when I was showing the house, but it wasn't nearly as worrisome as with this sink.

                    It is a nice sink. We put a clear soft cushion in the bottom of the deep one. But the side that gets used for the garbage disposal tends to get staining. I think I would always choose stainless.

                    1. re: DuffyH

                      Filling the sink with bleach water solution and letting it sit gets out most stains, I've found.

                  2. I have had porcelain, stainless steel, and Corian sinks and when I remodeled my kitchen I went with stainless for two reasons: 1) easier to maintain and 2) easily available in very large farmhouse size, which I wanted so I could lay a cookie sheet or big roasting pan in it flat, to soak clean. I hated my old double sink since neither side was big enough for anything.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Querencia

                      Yes, those old fashioned double sinks are just not very good, are they. When we did dishes by hand, they worked well, but now we don't use them that way.

                      Now, I think the bigger sink the better.

                    2. I have no love for our white porcelain sink. Like someone else mentioned, I cannot turn my back on it for a single use, it stains very easily.

                      The two Corian sinks I have are the work of the devil, never again.

                      I miss my old stainless steel sink and will be getting another after the porcelain one gets kicked to the curb.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cleobeach

                        When I got new countertops, a new sink/faucet install was part of the package. The old sink was contractor-grade stainless steel in the typical (too small) size. When it came time to pick a new sink, I never considered anything other than a D-shaped stainless steel sink. The shape is practical and beautiful. Since it's larger, it is definitely easier to use. Since it's stainless, it's pretty easy to keep clean. I love the D-shaped sink almost more than the granite countertops!

                        1. re: morjoie

                          The under mount SS with granite is really nice. Trying to sponge crumbs over a surface mount lip is a very distant memory.

                      2. Porcelain's more maintenance, but it can be a real looker. I have stainless now, but I once lived in an apartment with white porcelain. I never worried about cleaning stains because a shot of fume-free oven cleaner's all it takes. Same with the porcelain enamel-coated pots that tend to be thin-metal and easy to burn in. Never had to scrub either and came out spotless and stain free every time.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Rigmaster

                          You sprayed oven cleaner directly on your sink?

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            Yes, and it never caused any issues. There are fume free oven cleaners that also indicate for use on stovetop surfaces, which are porcelain-coated steel or metal of some type. Like I said, never had a problem and never even so much as once had to scrape or do anything special. Just let it sit, wipe, and rinse. Just make sure you get one that says safe for enamel on it as well.

                            I'm pretty sure a lot of oven interiors are porcelain enamel-coated too.

                        2. Hi, Sue:

                          I've had both, and I prefer enameled cast iron for 2 reasons: (a) I dislike the thin-*sounding* aspect of SS sinks; and (b) I was raised in a time when cheap SS was put into apartments and spec homes precisely *because* it was the cheapest, so I have that association. Not 100% rational, but hey...


                          7 Replies
                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            I agree with both points.

                            Also, I cook dinner and use my porcelain kitchen sink almost every day and I do not have to scrub it clean like many people in this thread have mentioned. Ours is a light almond color and shows no signs of staining. Maybe it's a particular type of food that goes into the sink that is the source of the staining?

                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              Where I get bad staining is in the small sink that feeds the garbage disposal. The big sink is not so bad. But anything going into the disposal has to hit the small sink first. If left even for a few minutes, I see stains. And, it is also where I rinse out the coffee carafe.

                              I don't these are unreasonable uses for that part of the sink.

                              1. re: sueatmo

                                Ah, I see. We don't have a garbage disposal so nothing solid goes into and sits in our sink. Big difference.

                              2. re: ttoommyy

                                It might be the cleaning habits of the previous owner, if you didn't install the sink yourself. Mine stains like an SOB, but if I scrub it down with Bon Ami and add some Clorox to it, scrub some more and leave it for a while, and rinse, it gets all new-looking again. I don't know whether to have it re-porcelained or get a new one.

                              3. re: kaleokahu

                                I agree with the cheap SS sinks, but the extra deep high end Kindred one I got ($450.00 12 plus years ago) when we remolded is quite thick & also has a rubber like insulation glued on the bottom and sides which eliminates that sound you refer to. Five minutes with dish soap and a sponge that has that green scouring pad and it shines like new.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  Hi, Tom:

                                  That makes total sense. Anybody make *cast* stainless sinks?


                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    Hey Kaleo,

                                    Its been a good 12 years since I researched kitchen appliances and such so I don't know about a cast stainless. I can say from experience that mine is very quite and easy to clean but it was not cheap, but my guess is that a Kohler "cast iron" porcelain isn't either. My advice to a "Foodie" is hold off an extra year or 2 and save so you get the kitchen of your dreams. Tom

                              4. When I redid the kitchen in my 1922 row home in Philadelphia, I choose copper counters and a stainless sink with a matte finish.

                                I am pleased that the counters have tarnished irregularly and the sink requires no polishing. Wiping is sufficient.

                                Despite bleaching and scouring I could never get the previous porcelain sink to look halfway decent.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Seeker19104

                                  I first read you post as "When I redid my kitchen in 1922..." LOL

                                  1. re: Seeker19104

                                    Wow- copper counters? How are they finished? I've never seen or heard of copper countertops, how are they finished- to stay shiny copper or to patina?

                                  2. I've had stainless and porcelain and the remodeled kitchen has a Blanco composite. Of the three I'll take the Blanco. It appears to be indestructable, doesn't scratch, doesn't chip, doesn't stain, and it doesn't seem as likely to chip enameled cast iron. It's quiet with the garbage disposal running, I haven't found a down side yet. All too well aquainted with the down side of both stainless and Porcelain.

                                    1. Sinks.

                                      When I worked in California, we had a white porcelain sink. The sink was noisy, and could not stay clean without a daily dosage of Bartender's Keeper scrubbed in using a scotch pad. And it chipped. Never again.

                                      Here we now have a Franke stainless double sink, and a Grohe composite ( sink, counter, and hand spray ). The Franke stainless is sub-surface to black granite, and the off-white Grohe is attached resting onto a sand coloured granite slab. Bartender's powder is rarely if ever needed on either, as both are easy to keep clean. ( I do apply BK to our German" Terra Cotta " collection of stainless pots and pans.)

                                      There is truth to Kaleo's comment on less expensive stainless steel sinks and the sound they produce. We have inexpensive stainless ( we call it inox here ) sinks at a chalet in the mountains, and in Brasil. These sinks produce a loud, hollow, sheet metal sound, while the Franke and HanGrohe do not.

                                      A slight faucet drip at Midnight there sounds like a slow snare drum roll at a cheap strip tease bar.

                                      The Franke / Grohe are very quiet and being more expensive and heavier, give a padded dull sound. I added a new reverse speed disposal last year to the Grohe, and have to check twice to make sure it is not on.

                                      If my wife ever put porcelain in again, I'd pull a Conehead dive out the kitchen window, and run away.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                        We also have the under granite mounted sink. Ours is a Kindred which if I recall was just under the Franke in cost. The high quality SS is very easy to clean and very substantial and our's has a layer of rubber like insulation glued to the bottom side which makes it very quite.

                                        Big box stores are great for many things but sometimes I think people would make different / better long term decisions if they spoke to the owners of privately owned suppliers that have spent a lifetime in the business. Yes they can't compete with big orange & big blue on price, but likely your talking to a 2nd or 3rd generation family member who knows where a few extra $$ spent really pays off in the long run.

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          Having lived in California many years ago, I found the mark-up on Franke products then quite high.

                                          The dubious reasons given by the salesman at one " Luxury store " varied, and some were quite funny. " The shipping on this product must be brought around to ports on the Pacific coast, " was one of the best, implying that shipments of plumbing faucets and sinks required the same delivery as vehicles.

                                          Thus the mathematics from that line justified a 387% cost increase." Really, this is the best price you will find anywhere on this product. " We went elsewhere, finding the same Franke items at 1/5th of the previous price in of all places a specialty store in Beverly Hills !.

                                          Years later while visiting, I drove by the store in OC and found it had gone elsewhere too. The property was vacant and up for sale.

                                          1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                            Some places are ridicules when it comes to prices. Good reputable pluming supply houses around my way (Mid Atlantic) usually beat big orange & big blue on higher end products because they sell a lot of them where as Orange / Blue stock low grade products and have to special order the good stuff and its usually at close to full MSRP.

                                            1. re: Tom34

                                              Agreed. I am also in the mid-Atlantic area and I have had good luck with the plumbing supply houses. Case in point: when my kitchen was redone, I bought the new kitchen faucet from a plumbing supply house. I was not happy when I saw the exact same model faucet at a big box store for substantially less. I went back to the plumbing supply house to ask about this substantial price difference. As it turned out, the faucet model at the big box store was made especially for them and had plastic housing to keep the price down. The faucet model I bought at the plumbing supply house had brass housing, which accounted for the price difference. When I found that out, let me tell you, I did the happy dance that I got my faucet from the plumbing supply house!

                                              1. re: morjoie

                                                You will be just as happy 15 years from now if your need a part as it will likely still be in stock and if not you will be able to order it through a supplier.

                                                Big Orange & Blue spec products to a specific price point & there are countless stories of folks bringing a broken big box store model to a supply house for parts only to be told it was specially made for HD with plastic internal parts which are not available.

                                      2. All the porcelain sinks discussed so far appear to be porcelain on metal which I've never seen here in the UK. This is what we know as a porcelain sink. Do you ever see them in the US?


                                        I've had these and ss and sadly ss wins for me. Sadly because the porcelain can look great in the right setting (doubles and one-and-a-halves are available), but I really, really wouldn't want to drop a heavy CI dutch oven into one. In fact just a plate or a glass would stand a much better chance of surviving a minor drop into ss.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Robin Joy

                                          <but I really, really wouldn't want to drop a heavy CI dutch oven into one. In fact just a plate or a glass would stand a much better chance of surviving a minor drop into ss.>

                                          Well said. Porcelain itself is hard. Hitting one hard object against another hard object will result in breaking or chipping. In other words, if you are to drop a Le Creuset into a ceramic sink, either the sink will chip or the Le Creuset will.

                                          Stainless steel sinks have more "give" and can absorb the force from impacts, making them more forgiving against harden cookware like glass, china and enameled cookware.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            "Stainless steel sinks have more "give" and can absorb the force from impacts, making them more forgiving against harden cookware like glass, china and enameled cookware."

                                            I have a stainless steel sink grid in the bottom of my porcelain sink that seems to do a great job of preventing this from happening.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              The downside to SS is that it scratches easily with as little as tongs on a fork being brushed/dropped against the sides. Quality porcelain usually survives minor things like this with no problem.

                                              Given the choice, I'd go with porcelain. Then again, I'm very particular about cleanup. If I had a lot to do, I'd go stainless or stainless as my primary cleanup.

                                              The single best thing about stainless is it's easier to replace when things go wrong.

                                          2. I do a lot of high-end kitchens as a G.C.. Porcelain (ireclay, enamel) is not considered an upgrade. While most of the fine stuff I do is S.S., the converse is not true either. As someone else replied they are different with a wide range of quality in both, especially stainless. It's really as much a look thing as anything once one is willing to spend a reasonable amount for quality. Though I will say that IMO one can a nice quality stainless for less than many people spend on the high-end porcelain styles.

                                            1. I hate SS, and much prefer a good porcelain sink. That's just my opinion, I don't claim to have any superior knowledge.

                                              1. I've never had porcelain stain, but I have seen one. However, it was very old and porous. I think they have solved that problem with our new sinks. The porcelain is just so clean looking and not surgical.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Lakelady10

                                                  Porcelain doesn't have to be old or porous to stain; witness the many threads here about stained enameled cookware. Even when treated with kid gloves, it picks up stains pretty easily.

                                                  it's not hard to clean, but once stained, it never seems to be quite as bright as when new. Of course, the same can be said of a scratched SS sink. I prefer the stainless because scratches don't make it look dirty, just well-used.